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Business rates

The quickest way to contact the Business Rate Team is by E-Mailing - Please include your seven digit business rate account number in chevrons anywhere in the subject line of the e-mail - like this <1234567>. This will ensure your e-mail is visible to officers more quickly.

If you do need to telephone the Council, please note that officers are only available from 9am to 1pm, Monday to Friday

What are Business Rates?

What are Business Rates? Toggle accordion

Non-Domestic Rates, or Business Rates, are collected by local authorities and are the way that businesses and individuals who occupy ‘non-domestic’ properties contribute towards the cost of local services.

Business rates are charged on most non-domestic properties, like:

  • Shops
  • Offices
  • Pubs and Restaurants
  • Warehouses
  • Factories

You’ll probably have to pay business rates if you use a building or part of a building for non-domestic purposes. To register for Business Rates with St Albans District Council, please click here. 

Under the business rates retention scheme we keep a proportion of the business rates paid locally. This means there is direct financial incentive for us to work with local businesses to create a positive local environment for growth, since we'll benefit from growth in business rates revenues. This money, together with revenue from Council Tax payers, grants provided by the Government and certain other sums, is used to pay for the services provided by us.

Further information about the business rates system, including what relief is available can be found on the Government website.

Business Rates bills are normally sent out in March of each year for the financial year that starts on the 1st of April. You can receive adjusted bills throughout the year if your circumstances change.

The bill will show how your charge has been calculated based on the rateable value of your property and the annual business rate multiplier set by Central Government.

It will set out how much your monthly instalments will be and when they are due to be paid. Ratepayers can pay their instalments over 12 months instead of 10. If you would like to pay your business rates over 12 months please e-mail Please include your seven digit reference number in <chevrons> in the subject line of the e-mail, like this <1234567>. This will ensure your e-mail is visible to officers more quickly. 

Please click here to read the Statutory Explanatory Notes issued by Central Government in relation to Business Rates.

Rateable Values

Rateable Values Toggle accordion

Your rateable value

All non-domestic properties have a rateable value, which is set and maintained by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). This value is based on the market rent that could be achieved for the property at a given date. A revaluation of this amount takes place every three to five years, with 2023 Business Rate Bills being based on the 2023 revaluation by the VOA. A revaluation is intended to ensure rateable values reflect changes in the property market and rental values, including the impact of Covid19. 

You can check your current rateable value on the VOA website. More information about rateable values is also available on GOV.UK.

All non-domestic property is re-valued every three to five year. However, the rateable value may also change if any physical changes are made to your property, for example, building or demolishing an extension. Therefore, such changes must be reported to us immediately.

As owner, or chargepayer, you also have the right to appeal to the VOA against the rateable value of your property, if you believe it is incorrect.

When and how to appeal

If you disagree with the rateable value that appears in the current rating list entry for your property, you may challenge it by contacting your local Valuation Office. 

You must continue to pay your Business Rates as per your current bill whilst your appeal is being considered. It is not permissible to withhold payment under any circumstances. Any non-payment will result in enforcement action. If your appeal is successful, the VOA will automatically notify us so that we can update your account and if the VOA reduce the rateable value we will refund any overpayment to you as soon as possible. 

  • Any overpayment for the current tax year will normally result in your bill being adjusted and re-issued.

An appeal to the VOA against a rateable value begins with a proposal to alter the rating list. Before making an appeal, you should contact your local Valuation Office to discuss your rateable value and why you want to appeal against it. They may be able to resolve things without you needing to go through the formal appeal procedure.

Check and challenge your business rates valuation

The contact details for your local Valuation Office are:

Tel: 03000 501 501

If you are enquiring on behalf of someone who does not have internet access, the VOA can also be contacted at:

Valuation Office Agency
Durham Customer Service Centre
Wycliffe House
Green Lane

Rating Advisers

You may wish to get specialist advice about your appeal from a specialist rating advisor. However, should you wish to be formally represented, you should beware of business rates 'scams'.

You can find out more about how to identify business rates scams and what you can do to avoid them on the GOV.UK website.

Members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation are qualified and regulated by rules of professional conduct designed to protect the public. 


Before using a rating advisor you should check that they have the necessary knowledge, expertise and indemnity insurance. 

Business Rate Relief Toggle accordion

There are various types of Business Rate Relief available which may reduce the amount you are expected to pay.

Small Business Rate Relief:

You may qualify for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) if: 

(i) your property's rateable value is less than £15,000, and 

(ii) you occupy the property (i.e, it is not empty), and 

(iii) your business only uses one property, although in certain circumstances you may be able to use an additional property and still qualify. 

Businesses eligible for this relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less are entitled to 100% relief on their liability. Businesses with a rateable value between £12,001 and £14,999 will receive tapered relief from 100% to 0%. Small Business Rate relief is calculated on a sliding scale of 2% for every £60 of rateable value over £12,000 and up to £14,999. The table below provides examples of how this taper works in practice.

Rateable Value% of Relief Entitlement
£12,000 or less100% reduction
£15,000 and above0%

The relief is generally only available to persons who are responsible for one business property. If you get a second business property, you'll keep getting any existing relief on your main property for 12 months. 

You can still get small business rate relief on your main property after this if both of the following conditions are satisfied. 

(i) none of your other properties have a rateable value above £2,899 

(ii) the rateable value of all your properties is less than £20,000 

To apply for Small Business Rate Relief, please complete and return the application form which is available below. 

If you are awarded Small Business Rate Relief, you must tell the Council if:

(i) you cease to occupy the property; or
(ii) you take up occupation of an additional property; or
(iii) there is an increase in the rateable value of a property you occupy outside of the St Albans district. 

Small Business Multiplier

If your property has a rateable value below £51,000 your bill will be calculated using the small business multiplier, which is lower than the standard one. This doesn't apply if the property is unoccupied, or you receive another relief. 

Charitable Relief:

When a commercial property is occupied by a registered charity or trustees for a charity, and it is used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes, the charity or trustees may be entitled to mandatory rate relief.  This reduces the amount of rate due by 80%. 

Community Amateur Sports Clubs:

Sports Clubs registered with the Inland Revenue as Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC'S) may also be entitled to 80% reduction in their business rates.

Discretionary Relief for non profit making organisations:

St Albans District Council can at its discretion award rate relief to non-profit making organisations whose main objectives are charitable, religious, or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or fine arts.

Hardship Relief: 

The Council has a discretionary power to reduce the payment of non-domestic rates by granting Hardship Relief. The principle purpose of an award of hardship relief is to provide short-term assistance to businesses that are suffering unexpected hardship, arising from circumstances beyond the control of the business and outside of the normal risks associated with running a business of that type. The Council must be satisfied that the viability of the business would be threatened if an award were not made.

Retail, Hospitality, Leisure Relief:

From April 2023 businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors may qualify for 75% 'retail, hospitality and leisure relief' on their business rates. This relief is intended to help support the businesses which make up our high streets and town centres.   

Eligible properties

These are properties that are occupied, and wholly or mainly used:

  •  as a shop, restaurant, café, drinking establishment, cinema or live music venue
  •  for assembly or leisure (including sports clubs, nightclubs, theatres, sport and leisure facilities, gyms, public halls, clubhouses)
  •  as a hotel, guest and boarding premises or self-catering accommodation.

For more information about what property uses are eligible, please see the guidance available on the Government website.

Please note: the Government does not consider the following business types as being eligible for this relief:

  •  Financial services (for example: banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, short-term loan providers, betting shops)
  •  Medical services (for example: vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
  •  Professional services (for example: solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, employment agencies, estate agents, letting agents)
  •  Post office sorting offices. 

Limits on Retail / Hospitality / Leisure Relief. 

Cash cap - a ratepayer can only claim up to £110,000 of Retail / Hospitality / Leisure relief for all eligible hereditaments in England. This cash cap applies at a Group company level (so holding companies and subsidiaries cannot claim up to the cash cap for each company) and also to organisations which, although not a company, have such an interest in a company that they would, if they were a company, result in its being the holding company.

Subsidy (state aid) - RHL relief is subject to the subsidies chapter within the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). This chapter only applies to subsidies over the value of approximately £315,000 per beneficiary over a three-year period (consisting of the current financial year and the two previous financial years) (the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit). Extended Retail Discounts granted in 2021-2022 do not count towards the limit. COVID business grants received from local government and any other subsidy claimed under the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit over the three-year period should be counted.

If you have been awarded Retail / Hospitality / Leisure Relief you may be requested to complete a cash cap declaration detailing the total amount of relief your business has received over the financial years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25. An electronic version of this cash cap declaration is available below.    

Rural Rate Relief:

Certain types of properties in a rural settlement with a population below 3,000 - for example, the only general store, post office or food shop and with a rateable value of less than £8,500, or the only public house or petrol station and with a rateable value of less than £12,500 - may be entitled to relief. The property has to be occupied, and an eligible ratepayer will get relief of the full rates charge (50 per cent is mandatory relief and 50 per cent is centrally funded discretionary relief).

Newspaper Relief: 

You may be entitled to a £1,500 reduction in your business rates each year, up until 31 March 2025 if your property is used as an office for journalists and reporters on a local newspaper team. A maximum of one discount per local newspaper can be claimed, even if more than one property is used as offices for the newspaper. If several local newspapers use the same office, you can only get the relief on one.

Magazines and online newspapers (that are not printed) are not entitled to this relief.

Supporting Small Businesses (SSB) Relief: 

Ratepayers losing Small Business or Rural Rate Relief as a result of the 2023 revaluation will have their increases limited to the greater of either (i) a cash value of £600 per year, or (ii) the matching cap on increases for small properties in the transitional relief scheme. This relief will run for three years to 31 March 2026 and ratepayers will receive the relief until this date or they reach what their bill would have been within the relief scheme, whichever is first.

Transitional Relief:

Business who would have seen increases in their Business Rate liability as a result of the 2023 revaluation may see that change deferred or phased in under Transitional Arrangements. For details of how this scheme works, please visit

This list of reliefs is not intended to be exhaustive. For more detail please visit

If you think you should be eligible for relief and it is not showing on your most recent bill, please e-mail giving details of what relief you believe you qualify for.

Business Rates and Empty Properties Toggle accordion

Business Rates are not payable in the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to six months in the case of certain industrial properties. After this period, rates are payable at the full occupied rate, although there are exceptions to this rule (see below).

Please be aware that the three or six month rate free period applies to the property. This means if you buy or rent an empty commercial property you will be immediately liable for empty rates payable at the full occupied rate if the property had already been vacant for more than 3 months for a non industrial property and 6 months if it is industrial.

There are certain types of property where a ratepayer will be exempt from the payment of business rates if the property is empty, regardless of how long it has been unoccupied. These properties are listed below:

  • Empty properties with a rateable value less than £2900.
  • Empty properties that are grade 1 or 2 listed buildings.
  • Empty properties owned by charities and when it is next in use it will be occupied by a charity.
  • Empty properties owned by a registered with the Inland Revenue as a Community Amateur Sports Club.
  • Empty properties owned by Companies who are in Liquidation or in Administration.
    Empty properties where occupation is prohibited by law. 

Executors and Personal Representatives of deceased sole traders are normally exempt from paying business rates in respect of properties left empty by the person who has passed away.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive. For more details please visit

Section 44A Relief (Partly occupied relief):

The Council has discretion to reduce a ratepayer's bill if part of their property is unoccupied for a short period of time. The period will be up to a maximum of 3 months or the end of the financial year for non industrial premises (such as shops and offices), which ever occurs first.

For industrial premises (such as Warehouses and Workshops) the award will be up to a maximum of 6 months, or the end of the financial year. 

This discretionary relief is not intended to be used where part of a property is temporarily not used or its use is temporarily reduced.  Instead Section 44a is aimed at situations where there are practical difficulties in occupying or vacating a property in one operation, such as the new premises to which the ratepayer is moving is not fully ready for occupation. 

If you think you are entitled to relief in respect of an empty property, please e-mail giving details of the property and the reasons it is empty. Please include your account reference in <chevrons> in the subject line of the e-mail. 

How to Pay Your Business Rates

The easiest and most convenient way to pay your Business Rates is by Direct Debit.

If you wish to pay by direct debit you must complete a Direct Debit instruction. You can download this form here or from the link at the bottom of this page. 

This direct debit instruction should be completed and returned to the Business Rates Section as soon as possible. You can e-mail a completed form to - Please remember to quote your seven digit business rate account number in chevrons anywhere in the subject line of the e-mail - like this <1234567>. This will ensure your debit debit instruction is received by officers more quickly.

You can also make payments online with a debit or credit card.

The Council operates an automated telephone payment facility for payments by debit or credit card for amounts of less than £4,000. This is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The number to ring is (0161) 7853880.

If you wish to pay your Business Rates by Standing Order you will need to quote the Council's bank details shown below:

Account Number: 01403818
Sort Code: 40:40:01

You will also need to quote your Business Rate account number, which you can find on your most recent bill. If you are paying by this method, please ensure you review your standing order every time you receive a new demand notice. 

You can pay by cash or card at the Post Office or any shop displaying the PayPoint sign using the barcode on the front of your bill.

You can post a cheque directly to the Council Offices. Payments should be made payable to 'St Albans District Council'. Please remember to quote your business name and business rate account number if you send a payment by post so we know who the payment is from. However, cheque payments may take some time to be credited to your business rate account, so we would prefer that you made payments via another method.

Finally, if you are liable to pay the Business Improvement District (BID) Levy, you can make payments via this link.